World Cup

Capitalism’s rule of profit exists in sport

Sports fans look forward to the world cup that takes place every four year. The greatest players and teams compete for what is considered the greatest prize in soccer. This championship comes only second in scale to the Olympics. With up to four matches a day the tournament dominates television coverage and is a topic of conversation in workplaces, homes, schools and colleges. Sport does not occur in a bubble. Capitalism’s rule of profit exists in sport. We can clearly see this at the world cup.

FIFA, the world football federation that organises the competition, is a very corrupt body. Its top officials receive generous kick-backs and bribes from big business. Votes at FIFA congresses are openly bought. The decision to hold the current world cup in Germany was subject to much controversy when votes were changed in the last minute by delegates against the wishes of their home associations. The FIFA president Seth Blather put envelopes under the doors of delegates before his election. FIFA, which is based in Switzerland, is currently under investigation by the Swiss authorities for corrupt practices. Corrupt bureaucrats run many local football associations. The leaders of the North American federation, CONCACAF, have recently been exposed. The head of this federation is living a luxurious lifestyle due to bribes he receives for contracts. He has even used his position in the Trinidad and Tobago association to give contracts and exclusive world cup tickets a travel agency owned by members of his family

Multinational companies make massive profits from exclusive rights relating to the world cup. Advertising, television rights, corporate tickets and sponsorship bring in massive money. For example Budweiser is the ‘official beer’ and they deny all other drinks companies access to world cup events.

The world cup is used for political purposes. Nationalism is whipped up by many in the media and political establishment when the national team is in the world cup. For example in England ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ are played at matches to boost English nationalism. The most rabid chauvinism can be seen in the tabloid press. Matches are portrayed as a continuation of past imperial wars and terms such as ‘crauts’, ‘huns’ or ‘argies’ are used to describe opponents. Of course it is not only the English establishment that does this. Most states participating have nationalism and chauvanism whipped up in some form or other. Ireland is no stranger to nationalism and sectarianism in sports.

Socialists stand for sport that is free of corruption, corporate interests, nationalism and sectarianism. The control of sports at all levels should be in the hands of the players and fans. Socialists stand for using the massive wealth that exists in society for investment in sports at a grassroots level, in schools and communities. The large football clubs should be taken away from big business and put in the hands of the local community, it’s workers, and it’s fans to be democratically run. Socialists stand for a world soccer tournament that is not used as an opportunity to make super profits by exploiting players and fans. Instead it should be about the enjoyment of top quality football.

By Oisin Kelly, Dublin SP

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